Joined: 19 Oct 2011
What Gifted Kids Would Say...
I often wonder what gifted kids would say if they were allowed to freely speak their minds to teachers.
After working with gifted students for six years, I have spent time with them in the classroom, at lunch, playing games at recess, and met with their parents. During that time, I have realized many of them shared similar challenges and issues, which teachers were not aware.
I have often had to bite my tongue when listening to homeroom teachers, specials teachers, and other adults complain about “those gifted children.” That is why I am a huge proponent of all teachers being required to complete a basic gifted education course, such as a Nature and Needs course. I believe this would eliminate potential problems since teachers would be armed with knowledge and gain a new perspective that would help them understand the needs of the gifted.
In the meantime, I’d like to imagine what some of my gifted students-past and present-would say if they had a free forum with their teachers and had the communication skills to clearly articulate their thoughts on the subject.
It might sound something like this:
“I want you to know that I am not gifted at everything. It’s not reasonable to assume that I am going to be highly advanced at reading, math, science, writing, and other subjects in school. While you might know a child that is great at everything, that is not me. I am good at a particular subject or perform higher in this area, but I often struggle in other areas. So please don’t say things like ‘You’re gifted. Why isn’t your writing better? You’re gifted. How come you have a C in math.’ This only creates stress and undue pressure for me and convinces me that you really don’t understand my giftedness and learning strengths.”
Maybe it would sound like this:
“In many ways, I am like the other kids. I have bad days, where I don’t perform well. I have moods and feelings, and sometimes experience them with more intensity. I have personal problems at home. I argue with my brothers and sisters and don’t always listen to my parents. Sometimes I am unmotivated. I get bored. I like video games, too. I may have a high IQ, but I am still a kid and experience everything that goes along with that.”
It might also sound like this:
“Please understand that I am not anti-social. It’s just, at times, I can’t seem to relate to the other kids. I am not interested in what they are talking about. Sometimes when I talk about something I enjoy, they don’t understand it or easily dismiss it. In fact, I enjoy talking with adults. They seem to get me. I also like to hang out with other gifted kids, not because I think I’m better, but because we have similar interests and can hold conversations.”
It would also sound like this:
“Please don’t call me weird because I act differently or think differently. I can’t help who I am. Just because I read a book while walking down the hallway, or don’t always make eye contact, or like to dress like Harry Potter when I get home, please don’t judge me. I’m not weird but rather unique. Why should I be like everyone else? That’s boring. Also, please don’t single me out in class by saying ‘gifted kids, report to the back of the room.’ That only makes me feel like an outcast, and the other kids then resent me.”
And finally, it might sound like this:
“Don’t make me repeat all the lessons I already know, just because the other students need to learn it. Give me a chance to show what I know. Don’t excuse me from lessons but give me an opportunity to show you I don’t need to learn this. If I show you I know it, can I work on a project or learn the next chapter? I like to be engaged and challenged, and I want to learn new things every day. Oh yeah, please make sure it’s a worthwhile lesson, not just tutoring the student next to me or running to make copies for you. I don’t mind helping, but I deserve to be challenged like the other kids in class.”
While this is obviously a made-up conversation, based on my experience with gifted children, I am sure some of these concerns-as well as others-would come up. Please take these viewpoints, concerns, and requests, and remember them whenever you have a gifted child in your classroom. Try to see the classroom from their point of view. If you do, you will build a great rapport with these students because they will feel like “you get them,” and you will inspire these students to develop their gifts and abilities to the fullest.